Joshua Nugent had a career goal in mind when he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force almost a decade ago. When he was honorably discharged, he left with a wealth of life-changing experiences that are the foundation of a new job in his old stomping grounds.
Nugent, who grew up in Coal City, began as a resource officer for Coal City High School this fall. The new job, he said, is an extension of the service-minded approach he brings to his work.
From 2014 to 2018, Nugent served as Air Force Airman 1st Class while stationed at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and embarked on a series of important tasks involving the nation’s nuclear resources.
“Obviously, nuclear resources are the most important asset, as far as weapons go,” Nugent said. “There are hundreds of missile sites that are scattered throughout parts of Wyoming, Nebraska and Colorado that we went out to.”
In the first half of his stint as airman, Nugent provided service at missile sites when maintenance was conducted or if assets were transported to or from a particular venue.
In the second half of his deployment, Nugent was part of an unprecedented assignment for his branch of the military: training with the joint fires observer team as an extension of his existing job with the convoy response force.
“That’s a rare thing in the Air Force,” Nugent said. “That’s normally something the Marines or the Army does. Usually somebody that’s deployed communicates with pilots and fighter jets that are giving coordinates to bomb adversaries. They found that it was something that was needed on the convoy response force, as well.”
At the time of attaining his JFO certification, Nugent was only one of about 25 Airman to attain such an accomplishment.
“It was a rewarding experience for me because it is so rare, and it was something I was proud of,” he said. “It was much-needed for our job, just based on the fact that we are transporting that resource off a base or back to a base.”
Nugent said he initially enlisted in the Air Force because he was seeking a change of pace and sought a pathway to eventually working in law enforcement.
“I kept wanting to get a job working security because my end all-be all was to become a police officer,” Nugent said. “That’s when I decided to go and talk to an Air Force recruiter, and I moved forward with that.”
Reflecting on his four-year deployment, Nugent said he would not change a thing.
“The experience was well worth it for me,” he said. “I would do it again in a heartbeat. I loved my time in the Air Force. I made a lot of great friends, and I had a lot of great experiences that I will never forget.”
After his honorable discharge, Nugent joined the Coal City Police Department. In July, he took on a new assignment as the resource officer at Coal City High School.
“Seeing the kids every day is always a blessing, honestly. It’s the most rewarding thing about my job right now,” said Nugent, who lives in Manhattan with his wife and son.
Elaborating on his new position at the high school, Nugent said, “It’s nice to build those relationships. I want to have that positive interaction and see the students grow up. I go to every football game and get to see them play and succeed out there on the football field.”